The End of History

by vegetables [Reviews - 0]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • Teen
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Introspection, Mixed, Series

The night had worn long enough that the Doctor was too tired to worry about anachronisms. She was surrounded by tools from the future of this time period: blood testing equipment and metal detectors all lit by electric light from her torch. With a stethoscope she was listening to the chest of the corpse on the floor, hoping desperately to hear something other than silence.

Her eyes were too embarrassed to meet the Monk’s due to just how much history she was changing.

An enormous rumble boomed through the Citadel and the Doctor’s glare flicked up to scold her friend, but the Monk’s head was down, her screwdriver far from her hands. Whatever was causing the sound was far down in the city below, and it was a long way from anything that got put into the history books.

“It’s already wrong, isn’t it?” said the Doctor with a sigh. “History’s falling to bits, no matter if we’re here or not.”

“It’s been that way for a while,” said the Monk. “You want to change history, you have to know what it looks like before you do. It was wrong before us, before the Daleks.”

“You don’t know much about Carthage, do you?” she said. “Nobody really bothers with it. But Hasdrubal who you’ve never heard of; he’s not supposed to be as good he is here. He should be a tyrant, hoarding what food there is for his friends. But instead he’s”–

“Noble,” said the Doctor. “Because that’s a better story. It doesn’t work if Rome burns down a city of awful men. But if they were to do it to heroes”–

“You know more about stories than me,” said the Monk. “But it’s powerful, isn’t it? A city no one’s heard of standing up to something huge, to say that they won’t be destroyed. But if they lose, then it’s powerful in all the wrong ways. Says the wrong side wins, that evil wins. And that can’t happen. So that’s where yours truly comes in.”

The Doctor nodded. “You think history’s shifting into a shape that’s resisting the Daleks. That it’s weaponising a narrative, but you’ll have to give it a shove. And you’re not too fussed who gets killed along the way.”

“Yes. And a hero would do the same, if she were trying.”

“I am trying!” said the Doctor, somehow looking angry with her cheeks.

The Monk snorted. “Trying the patience!”

“Not that,” said the Doctor. “I tried to find the centre of it all. It’s not coming naturally, the shape of the Dalek. There’s something that’s causing it, helping it to appear. A beam focussed on the time that Chris is from, shattering reality as it goes. It’s not just this place that’s different. History’s changing, everyone’s getting angry”–

The Monk laughed. “That’s why you think everyone’s angry? You don’t get out much, for someone who’s exploring all the time.”

“It’s held together by a six-dimensional lens,” said the Doctor, ignoring her. “Built of things I’ve found in all of the futures I’ve seen. Small and blue, like bits of old Meccano– but part of something bigger, pointing to something huge. I used the TARDIS to plot where the centre should be. But when I got here it turned out I only found you”–

The Monk let out a boom with her seismic screwdriver and the Doctor jumped, startled into silence by the din.

The Doctor glared at her friend. “What’d you do that for?” she said.

“You were going on,” said the Monk. “We’d be sitting here all night if nothing interrupted you. I was going to say, anyway. Maybe I’m the centre; you must’ve thought that. It could be me that you’re looking for.”

The Doctor looked mildly offended by that suggestion. “Don’t flatter yourself,” she said. “What’s causing this is huge. And you’re, well. You’ve never been one of the biggest movers and shakers”–

“You’re not getting it. Maybe the centre isn’t what destroys you, but what saves you. Like someone or something has set all of this up just to point you where you need to go.”

The Doctor looked into the Monk’s eyes to confirm her friend was joking, then felt her jaw drop when she saw how earnest they were.

The two Time Lords stared open-mouthed at each other before a while, before the Doctor suddenly started laughing from the bottom of her belly.

“It’s not that funny,” said the Monk in an injured voice. “Help’s not always found in the likely places.”

“Ha! It’s not that I’m laughing about. This is what it’s like for them, isn’t it? Being patronised. Someone who thinks they know you, that they sound like you, trying to save you and getting it all so wrong.”

The Monk gave her a very small smile. “That sounds a bit like a cry for help.”

“Well, you could write the book on those, I’m sure.”

The Monk didn’t rise to the bait. Instead she looked serious and gaunt, the lines on her face lit by the flicker of explosions far below. She smiled again, but in a warm, sad way, like she was talking to someone who she knew had a terminal illness.

“You are in danger, Doctor,” she said softly. “Perhaps you’ve not realised just how much. You think after this you’ll go off on more mad adventures. But you won’t. The Shape is when everything ends.”

The Doctor shook her head. “Even if I know that, I can’t let myself believe it. It always has to appear like there’s some hope”–

“So I’ve heard. That you’ll win against this threat the same as always. That’s what the people who know about you say, that your story goes on forever. But they’ve been saying it more often these days, like it’s something desperate. It’s almost as if they stopped thinking it’s really true”–

The Doctor looked down, unable to meet the Monk’s eyes. It only meant she met the eye of the dead Roman’s stomach, staring up as if it was judging her too. The Monk was examining this corpse to arm herself for what was coming, but deep down the Doctor knew that wasn’t her own motivation. She was looking for a way out, a sign that it wasn’t all true. Even here she was trying to run, like light sucking down a black hole.

“If I were to join you,” she said. “It’d mean giving up everything I’ve stood for and believed in; burning down what I’ve spent my lives protecting. Even at my darkest I wouldn’t drop this bomb. You wouldn’t either, not if you could avoid it. And we can avoid it, ‘cause we need to. We have to be better than this.”

The Monk scowled. “Don’t act like I’m worse than what I was. I was fine with the Daleks once. I was friends with them! But I hate them now, because I saw what they really were. That’s what’s great, isn’t it, about being the people we are? That we’re all capable of the most incredible change”–

“You’re not a hero, Monk. You’re talking about blowing up a city; that’s not worth a motivational speech. I’m different; I have a code.”

“And you think I don’t?”

“I think you change things for the hell of it and grin when they explode. My name has a meaning; a definition. I’ve never known who the Monk was supposed to be.”

“You still don’t get it, do you? A monk’s who you call when the doctors can’t win. When so many people have told you there’s no chance that you’ll take the desperate one, even if it’s stupid, because nothing’s ever so awful as not even trying at all.”

The Monk scowled.

“The same old stories, the same old ways.” She put on her strange high voice. “You can’t change history! Except now it is changing, right? It’s changing into what we always knew it would.”

“This isn’t about that,” said the Doctor. “It’s this planet’s future, the whole world that’s to come”–

The shape of the Dalek,” said the Monk, who wasn’t even listening. “You think that future’ll be safe from it now it’s here? Do you think its children will be?”

She chuckled.

“I don’t blame you, you understand. You were just trying to keep them safe. But you’ve put them in danger, haven’t you? You’ve put them in more danger than they’ve ever known”–

“I’ve not aimed a weapon at them,” said the Doctor pointedly. “I’m doing everything I can so that none of them have to die.”

As she said that a lasered flash lit the the citadel bright, and more masonry tumbled from the roof that was high above. The words seemed hollow now, even to her.

“You don’t need me to tell you,” said the Monk. “It’s a fact that you always keep running from. You can keep a child away from what history really is, for a while. But sometimes history will still come to swallow the child.”

She looked out to the stars beyond the citadel, though the large hole she’d blown for her hydrogen bomb to launch through. For a moment anyone could believe she was thinking of the children in Rome and Carthage and I’m Manchester, that she wanted a way to save all of them forever too.

“The way I see it,” she said, “change and the Daleks; they’re the only two constants in life. Before this is over, Doctor, you will have to choose which one you think’s the scarier.”

They both looked down to the Dalek on the stomach again.

“It won’t come to that,” said the Doctor tersely, failing even to convince herself.

“Of course it won’t. If it does, you’ll just deny it. That’s your oath, isn’t it? You’ll let everything die if it means you’re still able to be pure.”

“Not when it really matters. That’s not what being the Doctor means.”

“Perhaps that’s what you tell yourself. But I know what the Doctor’s always meant to me. For as long as that’s the touchstone of what you are?”

The Monk waggled her screwdriver to indicate herself, then her.

“Enemies,” she continued. “Maybe it’s for the best.”